Friday, May 26, 2017

For every tree removed, many new trees replanted

By Victoria Miller
Before any tree is removed as part of a project, we do an
inspection to preserve as many of the existing trees as possible.

We love our green, tree-lined scenery and the Interstate 405 corridor is no exception. However, sometimes our construction projects require us to remove vegetation to make room for new roadway features that will ultimately help travelers and nearby residents. We’d like to let you know about some recent activities on I-405 that require tree removal, and what we’re doing to balance this work.

Starting this spring, construction crews will remove trees in two locations near I-405.

The first location is on our property on the east side of northbound I-405 in Bothell between State Route 527 and I-5. The second is on our property on the southeast side of the northbound SR 167 ramp to northbound I-405 in Renton.

What to expect in Bothell

If you drive on northbound I-405 in Bothell between SR 527 and I-5 during the afternoon commute, you have probably noticed and possibly used our new peak-use shoulder lane, designed to help keep traffic moving more smoothly in this congested area. Another part of this project is building a quarter-mile long noise wall for nearby neighbors.

To make space to build this wall, we needed to remove selected trees on our property east of northbound I-405 between 202nd Street Southeast and Richmond Road. That work started this spring and is scheduled to wrap up by the end of next week depending on weather.

What to expect in Renton

In Renton, we are well under way with our I-405/SR 167 Direct Connector project, which builds a new flyover ramp connecting the I-405 carpool lane to the SR 167 high occupancy toll lane. To make space to build that new structure, we need to move the existing noise wall in this area farther east. As a result, we need to remove selected trees in the Talbot Hill area to make room for the relocated wall and the new road improvements. We expect to start that work in early June.
Some trees need to be removed for a noise wall project on I-405 in Renton but we replace any
trees that we take down as part of a project.

How we keep our roadsides green

We understand that seeing trees come down can be upsetting, and we don’t take this task lightly. We are well aware of both the habitat and aesthetic value that roadside vegetation brings to the traveling public.

Before any tree removal occurs, our environmental specialists walk the project area to complete a strict review process. We work to preserve as many trees as possible, especially older ones. We collaborate with our contractor to make an effort to preserve more trees than the initial amount proposed in their project design. To ensure proper tree management, our contractor identifies and reconfirms all trees they plan to remove before work begins.

Most importantly, for every tree removed, we replant many new trees in the project area.

Our policy requires us to calculate the number of trees to replant based on the diameters of the existing trees’ trunks. For example, we replace trees with trunks greater than four inches in diameter with multiple trees. For smaller trees with trunks less than four inches across, we replant one tree for each tree we remove. We have this policy in place to enhance the state’s quality of life by building transportation investments that promote energy conservation and protect the environment.

We make sure that crews remove only the trees necessary to complete work within the project area. Sometimes we get requests from homeowners to remove additional trees for other reasons, such as to improve their views. We only remove trees and vegetation if necessary for the scope of a project, or if they could pose hazards to drivers or nearby residents.

So if you’re driving along I-405 in the next few months and notice less vegetation in either of these two locations, you can count on us to add far more trees in the project area.


Unknown said...

I wish the DOT would consider how tall the trees get and the likelihood they would fall on to a car. 30-40 years from now if a tree planted by the DOT falls and kills someone then what. As I have been told there is currently a backlog of trees that may fall into the roadway,is there funding to address trees planted by mother nature? Planted by the DOT? Trees are good for the environment but...any plant growing in the wrong area is a weed.(Example: A Douglas fir tree growing in a crack of a sidewalk is a weed and needs to be removed.)Please consider the safety of the people using the highways with as much or more weight than the environment. Thank you, Kate

WSDOT said...

Kate, thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. Safety is always a priority in any WSDOT design, construction and maintenance project. We have standards in place to ensure safety when designing the locations of new vegetation. The WSDOT Roadside Policy Manual includes much more detailed information on our standards and our policy regarding tree removal and plant establishment along our roadsides.

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